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Cara Dillon – Wanderer album review

The Irish folk star delivers an understated and beautiful album.

Cara Dillon
Credit: Charcoal Records
Cara Dillon - Wanderer

Credit: Charcoal Records

Since the release of her self-titled debut album in 2001, Irish folk singer Cara Dillon has been one of the leading artists in the genre. With six albums already under her belt, Dillon recently released her seventh album Wanderer, which once again sees her teaming up with long time collaborator and husband Sam Lakeman. The album was somewhat of a surprise for fans as Dillon had previously stated that she wasn’t planning to release an album this year but spontaneous recording sessions led to the creation of Wanderer.

Wanderer features seven traditional folk songs, two original tracks and a cover of Shaun Davey’s Dubhdara. Opening with The Tern and the Swallow, you instantly get a feel for the beauty of the album. The gorgeous and spine-tingling piano sparsely accompanies Dillon’s distinctive and pure voice. She has an ability to include little runs as she delivers her songs and it’s all rather wonderful.

The long relationship, both personally and professionally, that Dillon has with Lakeman shines through on these songs. Lakeman acts as producer and he knows exactly how to get the best from Dillon whether that’s simple guitar on the highlight Blackwater Side or pairing her with Kris Drever on Sailor Boy. The two originals here – The Leaving Song and Lakeside Swans – fit perfectly alongside the other songs and if you didn’t know they were originals, you’d be forgiven for thinking they are also traditional folk songs.

It’s Dillon’s voice that really makes the record. She sounds wonderful throughout and her voice sounds powerful when it needs to and fragile in many other places. As soon as she starts singing, it’s hard to break your attention away from her voice, even when it’s surrounded by Lakeman’s wonderful instrumentation.

The Banks of the Bann is one of the strongest moments on the record. It manages to sound quite epic and majestic despite having a very simple arrangement. That’s testament to the talents of Dillon and Lakeman, and their chemistry.

Wanderer is a beautiful album. If there’s one criticism I could level at it, it would be that it’s so pretty and simple that some of the songs merge into one another. It’s a minor criticism though as each song is wonderfully sung and produced. With material as strong as this, I expect Dillon will continue to lead the folk genre and pick up all the awards in 2018.


Track listing: 1. The Tern and the Swallow 2. Blackwater Side 3. The Leaving Song 4. The Banks of the Foyle 5. Both Sides the Tweed 6. Sailor Boy 7. The Faughan Side 8. The Banks of the Bann 9. Lakeside Swans 10. Dubhdara Record label: Charcoal Records Release date: 13th October 2017


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